Date of Success:
Cherri Ryan is an author who is inspired by the children and families she cared for when working as a family doctor in Australia for almost twenty years. When she is not writing, Cherri works in medical education, and enjoys helping organisations that help others. In 2016, one of Cherri’s stories was animated and projected onto Brisbane City Hall as the Christmas Lights Spectacular. She lives in Queensland, Australia, with her family, one cat, two guinea pigs and many visiting birds and possums. Cherri believes in hope, joy, perseverance and the power of stories.
Her debut picture book, Spirit, illustrated by Christina Booth and published by Black Dog Books (an imprint of Walker Books Australia) follows a young girl with creativity, courage and sailing dreams.
CYA Conference is excited that Cherri will be joining the CYA Conference Presenters on the Success Panel in 2018!
WHAT CYA CONFERENCE DID FOR ME
In 2010, I finally realised if I wanted to follow my dream of writing for children, then I needed to actually do something about it. I pulled out the many stories I had been scribbling and hiding away in a box over many years and began to sift through them. I started exploring the world of writing for children and ways to become a better writer and discovered the CYA Conference.
In 2010, I attended my first CYA Conference and entered two stories in the competition. They came 32nd and 65th (out of 85 entries)! Needless to say, I was slightly disappointed, but, after that conference, my writing passion went from smoking to blazing. I attended workshops, joined writing groups, read books on writing and worked on my drafts in my ‘free’ hours (between working and being a mum, this was usually midnight to 2am!).
In 2011, I attended the CYA Conference again, entered new stories in the competition and booked into my first editor sessions. That year, my stories came 24th, 53rd and 64th. A slight improvement? The three editors I met that year gave me constructive feedback and encouragement. One of those editors, Maryann Ballantyne from Black Dog Books, particularly stayed in my mind as she encouraged me to understand the concept of the mid-point of the story, the point of no return, that moment where the protagonist must go forward as they can no longer go back… perhaps that was my own mid-point.
This conference spurred me on and I continued my journey of writing, improving, learning and submitting. Every year since then, I have attended the CYA Conference. I continued to enter multiple stories in the competition, and each year they climbed a little higher, until several placed in the top 10 in Picture Book and Chapter Book Categories. Each year, I met with editors and began to receive even more detailed positive feedback and receive requests for edited works and full manuscripts, however, that elusive contract continued to, well, elude me.
Then, in 2016, I secured another editor appointment with Maryann Ballantyne. As we spoke, I let all my passion for my story flow through me and somehow a little piece of magic occurred. At the end of that session, Maryann asked me to send through an edited version of the story, but, more than that, I sensed that my story had connected with her. That was quite a special feeling, no matter what happened beyond that.
Six weeks after I sent in my revised story, I received a call – I was offered my first book contract for my picture book, Spirit. Under the direction of the wonderful team at Black Dog Books (an imprint of Walker Books Australia) this beautiful book was illustrated by the talented, award-winning illustrator Christina Booth, and was released 1st July 2018, making a long-held dream of mine come true.